Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New York Times: The Ski Resort That Crowdsourcing Built

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

“A mash-up of postmillennial civic and lifestyle ideas, with an ethos of social entrepreneurism: Telluride meets the Mission District, perhaps.” A story for the Sunday NYT this weekend about a group of young entrepreneurs who are developing an intellectual enclave atop a Utah ski mountain.

Men’s Fitness: “Channing Tatum and the Quest for the Perfect Buzz”

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

For this feature in the March issue of Men’s Fitness, I spent a week in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the founders of Runa, a NYC-based company that concocts beverages made from guayusa, a caffeinated plant native to the jungle, and the actor Channing Tatum, one of the company’s investors.


National Geographic: Adrift in the Arctic

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

We drifted across the frozen Arctic for 30 days, trapped in sea ice. Four miles here, ten miles there—a squiggly red line on the ship’s digital chart was the only measure of progress. Isolation settled in. We had to shoo away curious polar bears, and dress like it was the moon. One morning, the sun gloriously reappeared on the horizon after being switched off at that latitude for four months of the year. Didn’t make things any warmer.

A few weeks ago, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest winter extent on record. Meanwhile, I was on a Norwegian polar research vessel with scientists studying how the ocean, atmosphere, snow, ice and biology all interact in the Arctic amidst a backdrop of significant warming. This was the fourth (and final) dispatch I filed from the ship for National Geographic Magazine:…/150319-arctic-expedit…/. Print story forthcoming.   5I4A1308-919


Audubon Magazine: David Attenborough

Friday, February 13th, 2015

It was a privilege to spend time on set in rural Britain with the great Sir David Attenborough for this profile in Audubon Magazine’s Feb 2015 issue. Even Americans who might reach for his name—“Is that the Planet Earth guy?”—would easily recognize Attenborough’s soothing, melodic voice, which has pretty much become synonymous with natural history television. Growing up, I collected VHS tapes of his films. It’s kind of remarkable that an 88-year-old in grandpa pants has managed to stay relevant—and as popular as ever—in the age of “Finding Bigfoot” and “Pit Bulls and Parolees.”

Audubon Magazine: Sam Droege

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

I have a profile in the Dec 2014 issue of Audubon Magazine about a creative USGS biologist named Sam Droege, the Johnny Appleseed of citizen science.

“It was a bright, breezy day in late April, the flowering azaleas having finally shrugged off the winter that overstayed its welcome, when Sam Droege sailed onto the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., behind the wheel of a pterodactyl. It was actually a ’98 forest-green Saturn, which Droege had painted with yellow wings and a red-and-yellow beak that tapered to a point down the center of the hood. A piece of wood, lined with a rusty crosscut saw, had been bolted to the roof: the crest. Little jingle bells, inspired by richly adorned buses in Pakistan, dangled from chains screwed into the rear bumper. Droege still had designs for neon undercarriage lights, and a mosaic of mirror shards to line the car’s ceiling–”but why stop there?” he wondered. It was a work in progress.”


Smithsonian: Are Tablets the Way Out of Child Illiteracy?

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

For Smithsonian Magazine, I visited a school district in rural Alabama to report this story:

“Even as Roanoke struggles to leave the 20th century behind, the tablet project has brought the town to the leading edge of education. It’s an experiment, conceived by researchers at MIT and Tufts and Georgia State Universities, to determine the extent to which technology, left in the hands of children, can support reading development and literacy instruction in students with limited resources.”


New York From Just Above

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Recently, I had the opportunity to fly in a helicopter from Manhattan to Montauk. I managed to shoot some photos, from behind the window, en route:

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National Geographic Traveler: Tristan da Cunha

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

In Sept. 2009, I spent one month on Tristan da Cunha, the world’s most remote inhabited island. My interest in traveling there had started with a random curiosity one night at my desk, several months earlier: What’s the psychology of living in really remote places? I Googled “world’s most remote island.” I’d never heard of Tristan, but its history, and its very existence, fascinated me. Nat Geo Traveler offered me an assignment to visit, and after a week on a polar research vessel, across the South Atlantic from Cape Town, I reached the island. There wasn’t much to do there, but of course that wasn’t the point. Living idly in a contained community so far from the rest of the world, as if in a bubble, was the experience.

Five years later, Traveler has published the story. It’s not the story I wanted to write, or the one I’d write again today, or even really my own voice — but I’m happy to see it finally in print.


Popular Science: A Beautiful Mind

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

In the July issue of Popular Science, I wrote about this sleek new headband that reads your brainwaves much like a heart-rate monitor detects a pulse. Its inventor, Ariel Garten, says it can train you to achieve greater focus. Eventually, it might do other things, too, like alter room lights and music in response to your mood.


Trust for Public Land: Lost & Found

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

In the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of Land + People, the magazine of The Trust for Public Land, I profiled individuals who’ve found personal cures in the outdoors: a traumatized veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who launched a reintegration program for vets on the Appalachian Trail; a Las Vegas blackjack dealer who discovered herself on the Pacific Coast Trail; two New Hampshire quadriplegics who found their escape on accessible hiking trails; and a Massachusetts woman who, after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a horse accident, but now turns to the animals for therapy.



Autumn in Patagonia

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Pictures from a recent trip to Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

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WSJ. Magazine: A Fungus Among Us

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Oregon is home to four of the seven wild culinary truffle species native to North America, which at some point acquired a reputation as a second-rate talent compared to the prized European varieties. For the April issue of WSJ. Magazine, I went into the Oregon woods with a bilingual truffle-hunting dog named Tom, and wrote about the effort to rehabilitate the stature of American truffles.


Psychedelic Guinea Pig

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

brainscanTwo years ago this month, I volunteered to be a test subject in an Imperial College of London research study exploring the brain effects of psilocybin. I was dosed intravenously with the drug, and then monitored, as I sat tripping under an MEG scanner, at the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre in Wales. That study is now out, in the Journal of Neuroscience. Essentially, the researchers discovered that psilocybin’s effect is to disrupt the normal, regularly timed firing of neurons in the brain’s posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). This is usually a very ordered and organized activity, but under the drug, becomes disorderedly and chaotic; neurons fire willy-nilly. It would seem that our very notion of a self hinges on the timing of neurons: mess with their routine, the ego dissolves, and, suddenly, all appears one in the universe….brainscan430681_10151393856535455_1882897225_n

Men’s Fitness: “Silicon Valley’s New Social Network”

Monday, January 6th, 2014

In the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Men’s Fitness, I wrote a feature about the commingling of endurance sports and business networking  in Silicon Valley, and the Bay Area’s particular breed of hyperfit tech entrepreneurs.


SKI Magazine: Russia’s Gamble on Sochi

Monday, January 6th, 2014

In the Jan 2014 issue of SKI Magazine, I have a feature about the new ski resorts near Sochi, Russia: the fun backstory of how the resorts got developed, and how they might fare once the Olympic Games is over.


NY Times: A Test Run at Russia’s Olympic Hopeful

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

In this weekend’s (Dec. 22) New York Times Travel section, I wrote (and shot) the cover story about a ski trip to Russia, to the new resorts built near Sochi, the site of the coming Winter Games.


I also paid tribute to my grandfather Irv Isaacson, who lived in Denver, built the first ski lodge at Winter Park, Colo., was a great lover and champion of the sport, and created ski art and souvenirs.

Until then, skiers mainly collected patches and pins of ski areas like Aspen and Stowe. Irv was one of the first to take these souvenirs further, turning out high-quality mugs, shot glasses, brandy snifters, champagne flutes, ashtrays and beer mugs bearing resort names and logos – the sort of branded keepsakes that are ubiquitous today. The posters he designed were satirical, poking fun at the sport’s elitism and cultural stereotypes:



Disability Right Fund: report

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Last year, I traveled to Bangladesh (Dhaka, Chittagong Hill Tracts) Peru (Lima, Amazon), Fiji, Kenya and Indonesia on behalf of the Disability Rights Fund, an organization that supports Disabled Persons Organizations in the developing world that advocate for the human rights of persons with disabilities.

It was a tremendous experience, and the result — with my writing and photography — is this report produced by the creative folks at Free Range Studios.

You can view it here. Here are some additional photos from my reporting:

The New Republic: Coming Soon to Your Bedroom: Beef-Tendon Condoms

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Bill Gates is paying big for better contraception. For The New Republic, I wrote about what scientists have come up with.

WSJ. Magazine: The Croatian Engineer That’s Revolutionizing Electric Cars

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Last summer, I visited Croatia for the Wall Street Journal Magazine to profile 25-year-old prodigy Mate Rimac, who has built the fastest electric car in the world. Now his innovative designs are being licensed by manufacturers building the next generation of supercars. Read about it in the November 2013 issue of WSJ. Also shot this cover portrait:

The New Yorker: The Mysterious Buyer of Buford, Pop. 1

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

A piece online at The New Yorker: Last year, an unusual Wyoming real-estate deal made international headlines: the tiny town of Buford, population one, had been purchased by an anonymous Vietnamese businessman. What did the buyer want with an exit off the interstate containing little more than a trading post and a pair of gas pumps? It was unclear; the businessman flew back to Vietnam without saying, and, until Tuesday, there had been little news from Buford….

Popular Science: The Robotic Search For Lost World War II Airmen

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

I wrote and photographed a feature in the Sept 2013 issue of Popular Science. World War II combat pilots have been lost at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean for nearly 70 years. Last March, in Palau, I joined a group of engineers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and amateur marine archeologists from the Bent Prop Project, as they deployed autonomous robots to find them.

The New Yorker: Dining on Mars

Friday, June 28th, 2013

On The New Yorker’s Elements blog, I have a piece about a NASA experiment on the flanks of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, to test different cooking methods for Mars habitation.

ISLANDS Magazine: Tristan da Cunha photo essay

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
In the June issue of ISLANDS Magazine, a photo essay I shot in Tristan da Cunha, the “world’s most remote inhabited island,” a very distant, awesome little place in the South Atlantic that takes a week to reach, by ship, from Cape Town. Home to 250 hardy souls, who descend from hardier souls: British and Dutch seamen, American whalers, Italians castaways, who ended up there and stuck around. The entire island is a volcano, which rises to 6,700 feet and appears to float across the ocean like a lonely iceberg.

Hemispheres: Fossil hunting in Peru

Monday, April 8th, 2013

I shot and wrote the feature in this month’s issue of United’s in-flight magazine, Hemispheres, about a controversial character in the Peruvian desert who is trying to defend the world’s largest trove of marine fossils from commercial scavengers.

Sierra: “Corporate Climbers”

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Spent the day with the climbers who clean wind turbines, for this text/photo feature in the March/April 2013 issue of Sierra.

Dwell: “Queen of the Hill”

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

In the March 2013 Interior Design issue of Dwell magazine, I profiled San Francisco modern architect Abigail Turin.

NYT: The “digital detox” movement

Friday, December 21st, 2012

250 young Bay Area professionals walk into a bar, surrender their phones, and try to hang on….

In the NYT Sunday Styles section.

Daily Beast: Aung San Suu Kyi Meets Her Peers

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

I covered an intimate and very interesting event in San Francisco on Friday — the Freedom Forum — which brought together Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and various inspiring activists from around the world. Here at The Daily Beast.

NY Times Science: Gateway to Myanmar’s Past, and Its Future

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Wrote a short piece, with pictures, in today’s Science Times, about a magnificent Buddhist capital, Bagan, in Myanmar, and how the country’s recent political changes is/will affect cultural heritage and archaeology.

NPR: “Talk of the Nation”

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Was invited to talk RVs and about my recent NY Times Travel cover story with host Neal Conan on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”. Listen here.